YNet News resolves the confusion over the conflicting claims of credit for the Dimona suicide bombing. Two would-be bombers are alive and well – in an Egyptian prison after being arrested near the Rafah border.
It happens almost every day: A “Color Red” alert, Qassam rockets landing, and all this followed by tears, mass panic, and concerned phone calls from home. It happens to us during classes, it happens during breaks, and it happens during difficult exams.
We have already sustained property damage to the college before, but this time we are dealing with the worst possible scenario – the death of a student. To my regret, despite our army and the reinforced security deployment at school, I do not have the confidence to say that tomorrow’s Qassam rocket will not hit me or any one of my friends at the college.
Can you comprehend that this is how students in Israel go about their studies? Do we need to sacrifice our lives for the sake of an academic degree?
Expect those sniveling UK academics to speak out? Don't hold your breath.
UPDATE, Feb. 28: More about Sderot's higher, dire education at The Media Line.
The closing arguments are over and our Take a Pen colleague, Endre Mozes is happy to be out of the courtroom where Philippe Karsenty and France 2 went head to head over the al-Dura video. No verdict was delivered. That'll happen on March 21.
"It was a fight of the institutional thinking," said Mozes. "The strongest argument France 2 could come up with is that Charles Enderlin is an institution in this country. They said that [Jamal] Al-Dura was visited by Jordan's king, which shows how important this case is. France 2 wanted to show how respected personalities participated. They hardly challenged the facts and preferred to play up the players and institutions involved."
Mozes said the French TV network's lawyers also sought to discredit Karsenty with handwriting analysis, treating him him as lightweight. "They ridiculed him, like, how dare he criticize an institution like France 2" Mozes said.
Will the three-judge panel break from the conventional wisdom? That's the million dollar question. "It'll require a lot of courage," Mozes said, crediting Judge Laurence Trebucq for giving Karsenty time and leeway to show all the material he wanted.
Although Mozes described Karsenty's presentation as "cool and articulate," Mozes suggests Karsenty may have overprepared. "There are so many strong arguments showing that something isn't right with the video. Karsenty got lost in a huge number of arguments, rather than hammer home at three or four."
One of the evening's surprises was Charles Enderlin's revelation that he relied on the Shin Bet's assessment of cameraman Talal Abu Rama (pictured, right).
"In the Israeli press, there's a general belief that Palestinian journalsts and photographers are unreliable. Enderlin said his experience is that they are reliable. He said he asked the Shin Bet about Talal Abu Rama and they said he was clean. When the Shin Bet says he's clean, they only say he's not involved in terrorism that but doesn't vouch for the reliability off his journalism. But for Enderlin, it was enough."
Watch this exclusive interview with Mideast expert and media analyst Tom Gross about the al-Dura controversy.
UPDATE March 1: We received incorrect information about the verdict. The court's decision will be handed down on May 22.
Just got another brief update from Endre Mozes, our Take A Pen colleague attending today's legal proceedings. He described Philippe Karsenty's presentation on al-Dura as "excellent with lots of sources" and Karsenty himself as "cool and articulate."
Not so the France 2 lawyers. "In the last hour and-a-half, they were trying to use handwriting analysis to try showing Philippe's a megalomaniac," said Mozes. "Philippe was shocked by the personal attacks, and twice, the judge stopped the proceedings to address the lawyers."
The presentation is still continuing despite the late hour. "This length isn't what anybody expected," Mozes said wryly.
Watch this exclusive interview with Mideast expert and media analyst Tom Gross about the al-Dura controversy.
Our colleague at Take A Pen, Endre Mozes, just called from the courthouse during a brief break in today's legal proceedings between Philippe Karsenty and France 2. Karsenty is making a lengthy presentation about the al-Dura video, a presentation Mozes says has been well-documented.
The trial started two hours late, and the hearing was moved to a different room to accomodate the crowd.
Too soon to say whether the proceedings will wrap up today or continue tomorrow.
Watch this exclusive interview with Mideast expert and media analyst Tom Gross about the al-Dura controversy.
A Qassam rocket hit the parking lot of Sderot's Sapir College killing one Israeli, identified only as a 30-year student.
According to Haaretz, the student was sitting in a car when he suffered lethal shrapnel wounds in the chest. YNet News says 23 rockets have been fired today, with 11 coming in a very short time span.
Qassams also hit a home and a factory today.
UPDATE: The Israeli student has now been identified as Ronnie Yechiya, 47, a father of four from the community of Bitcha near Ofakim. At last count, 40 rockets have been fired; one landed on open ground of Ashkelon's Barzilai Hospital.
Though the Israeli government has consistently rejected talking to the Islamic group, some Israeli officials have recently been expressing support for such talks. The officials include former heavyweights in Israel's defense establishment and Eli Moyal, mayor of the town of Sderot, which is bombarded nearly daily by Gaza militants.
"Never in Palestinian history did we feel endangered until now," said Archimandrite Artemios, the Greek Orthodox priest who heads St. Porphyrius. "We face the question of whether we are part of this community or not."
Mideast expert and and media analyst Tom Gross re-examines the original coverage of the famous incident in light of questions that emerged over the past seven years. Watch HonestReporting's exclusive interview.
The Mohammed al-Dura case dates back to September 2000 and many people say it actually sparked the second Palestinian intifada, which then lasted for several years.
A little boy was supposedly shot and France 2, a state-owned French TV channel, got hold of some film and not only broadcast it, they took the highly unusual step of making copies and handed video cassettes to rivals like CNN and the BBC. France 2 correspondent Charles Enderlin said that, first of all, the boy had died and secondly, that Israel had killed this boy. In fact, it later transpired that Charles Enderlin had not even been in Gaza that day – he was in Ramallah, and a freelance Palestinian cameraman had given Charles Enderlin the film.
Almost immediately there were questions about who shot this boy. Later on, there were questions about whether the boy had actually been shot at all. The angle the boy appeared to be shot at did not come from the direction of where Israeli soldiers were stationed. How could Israeli soldiers be responsible for shooting this boy when they weren’t positioned in the line of fire, people asked?
And whether the boy had actually been shot at all is not clear. It soon transpired that the Palestinians that day deliberately play-acted many other scenes for the cameras. We know that because film taken by Reuters cameramen shows various such scenes: for example, Palestinians being carried into Red Crescent ambulances looking like they were seriously injured and then, minutes later, getting out of the ambulance laughing and so on. So it is known that other scenes were staged at the Netzarim Junction that day. The film France 2 provided was very inconclusive.
A court action has been going on for some time in Paris that will hopefully be resolved soon.
In the last hearing, in November, France 2 had been ordered to produce the raw footage of the “al-Dura” film which they had previously said lasted 27 minutes. But when he came to court, Enderlin only produced 18 minutes i.e. only two-thirds of the film. The judge was quite surprised. Enderlin mumbled some excuse about not having all of the film and losing it; it certainly raised great suspicions. And in the film they did play, al-Dura, appears to move his arm after he’s been “shot dead” and then opens his eyes again.
Al-Dura has become a poster child for the intifada and beyond. For example, Osama bin Laden referred to al-Dura in his post-September 11 video; the killers of Daniel Pearl placed a picture of al-Dura in their beheading video; streets, squares, academies and so on have been named after al-Dura throughout the Muslim world.
The al-Dura case goes to the very heart of media coverage in the modern age.
What you have are freelance photographers and cameramen, who are often partisan, filming in a local conflict, editing the film, and sending it to an international station like France 2. Because of the pressure of 24/7 television today, stations like France 2 immediately broadcast it before anyone examines the film and its authenticity.
In the Hizbullah-Israel war, in the summer of 2006, certain visual images taken by both Reuters and the Associated Press in South Lebanon were faked, and Reuters sacked some of their local Shi’a Lebanese photographers.
But it was too late. By the time Reuters carried out an independent investigation and found they had been duped by their local Lebanese stringers, the photos had appeared all over the place, in thousands of publications, big and small, throughout the world.
So, going back to the al-Dura case, it launched the intifada, in the sense that without the inflammatory film being rebroadcast time and again, the intifada may have been a localized disturbance that lasted a few days with limited casualties.
Instead, it inflamed the population, which is what the Palestinian Authority presumably wanted, by repeatedly showing the film on TV. A few weeks later two Israeli reserve soldiers were lynched in Ramallah by a mob chanting al-Dura’s name. You may recall one of the Palestinians stuck his hands out of a window dripping in blood. The intifada soon spiraled out of control.
So, in a sense, France 2 may have blood on their hands too in that the intifada may never have happened if it had not been for their repeatedly airing what may well be fake video of a boy called al-Dura dying.
We now have a conflict between Israel and the Palestinians which is worse than prior to the al-Dura incident. It’s irresponsible journalism to broadcast such pictures without being sure that these pictures were authentic. What the legal case has shown so far is that there is reasonable doubt.
Others will go further than me and say that they’re sure they’re staged. I’ve looked at the pictures, examined the case carefully; I’m not a forensic expert, and I’m not working as a lawyer. But as far as I can see, there are very reasonable doubts that the film footage is authentic, and even if the boy died there are very reasonable doubts that Israel was responsible for his death.
So, for France 2 to tell the world that Israel, in effect, murdered a helpless child, and then provide film footage to international TV networks when it wasn’t true, is very inflammatory.
In France, they were attacks related to Middle East violence in the years following the al-Dura case – French Jews such as Ilan Halimi and others were murdered. The atmosphere may have been generated by the France 2 footage.
The Israeli government has been very slow to take up the al-Dura case. It’s been left to independent organizations such as HonestReporting to investigate this case properly. I think the Israeli government has been somewhat slow to understand how important media is in modern diplomacy and conflict.
In the past, Israeli politicians like Moshe Dayan said that Israel doesn’t have a foreign policy; it only has a defense or security policy. Shimon Peres, around the time of the 1993 Oslo Accords, who was then Israel’s Foreign Minister, said that if you have a good policy, you don’t need public relations and if you have a bad policy, public relations won’t help.
I’m afraid that’s not true – whether Israel has good or bad policy is almost irrelevant in the public relations field. If the critics of Israel want to attack, they will do so.
Every country in the world has to be aware of public relations with 24/7 media. I think Israel has fallen far behind in the battle for public relations vis-à-vis not just other countries, but even behind militia groups, such as Hamas, Hezbollah and similar organizations.
The LA Times equates Qassam fire with hands-across-Gaza. Both are "parallel protests."
As Israelis watched nervously from across the border, Palestinians in the Gaza Strip staged parallel protests Monday against the Jewish state, placing a few thousand placard-waving demonstrators along the main highway and firing 11 rockets into Israel.
A human chain is a legitimate form of protest. Qassam rocket fire is not. Can correspondent Richard Boudreaux and readers representative Jamie Gold explain otherwise Yossi Haimov and family?
In a formal email response to a viewer, Israeli Broadcasting Authority ombudsman Elisha Spiegelman explained why Channel 1 doesn’t provide weather forecasts for settlements:
"I want to remind you that Judea and Samaria are not part of the state of Israel - and the settlement of Eli is not included within the boundaries of the state," wrote Spiegelman, who is a former Mabat newscast editor.
Ever dream of reading a snippet like this? AP and Palestinian witnesses take note of Israel's refined targeted killings.
Qurmot, a leader of the Popular Resistance Committees, was hit along with two comrades, who were wounded. The deadly strike on a clear Monday afternoon, left nothing more than a small hole in the ground, and civilians nearby were unharmed, witnesses said.
Palestinian witnesses have reported that missiles flew into buildings, killing their target while barely damaging the structures. In December, four militants standing near each other were killed by four separate missiles, witnesses said.
Hamas plans a human chain today along the Gaza-Israel border to protest the strip's closure; the IDF's mobilizing to prevent another border breach. Haaretz reports Hamas already scripted today's media circus:
Palestinian journalists said Sunday that Hamas is likely to bring school children to Erez and other potential sites of friction, who will be sent near the crossings to throw stones, as the cameras are rolling.
British columnist Alex Brummer says the BBC may finally be taking note of criticisms of its Israel coverage:
There also clearly was some concern within the BBC about the recent HonestReporting study which suggested that accounts of rockets falling on Sderot were patchy compared to reports of Israeli military and economic retaliation against Gaza. The fact that the Beeb, at the upper levels, is aware of such matters indicates a desire to try to bring an end to the suspicion towards the BBC in British-Jewry.
Memri also flagged a Saudi columnist lamenting the expulsion of Jews and now Christians from Arab lands:
"[Jewish emigration from Arab countries] had a significant negative impact on the material wellbeing of society, and on economic diversity, in the Arab world. It helped invalidate the claim that religious moderation, coexistence, and 'acceptance of the other' [prevailed in Arab countries].
"It is obvious that, today another wave of emigration is underway, and that the Arab world is being drained of its Christian residents. The rate of Christian emigration from Lebanon, Jordan, Iraq, Egypt, Palestine, Sudan, and Syria has reached astonishing proportions. Palestine in particular is facing a plan to eradicate the entire deeply-rooted Christian presence from all its territories."
It didn't take long for the Palestinians to raise this trial balloon. In the footsteps of Kosovo, Yasser Abed Rabbo told Reuters the Palestinians should consider unilaterally declaring independence too:
"If things are not going in the direction of actually halting settlement activities, if things are not going in the direction of continuous and serious negotiations, then we should take the step and announce our independence unilaterally," Abed Rabbo told Reuters.
He drew an analogy to Kosovo, which declared independence from Serbia on Sunday.
Father Raymond De Souza (pictured) describes how Gaza's Christians are living in fear. Here's why it's not in your local paper:
There is no free press in Gaza. Outside reporters, whether Israeli or foreign, cannot move about freely and pursue such stories. Foreign reporters in particular need extensive handlers, as they do not know the local language, the local geography or the local leaders. It is much easier to stay in Tel Aviv or Jerusalem and rewrite press statements about the visit of the latest foreign dignitary.
Even if the reporters came, what would they be told? It is well known that Christian Palestinians who have been subject to firebombings, seizures of homes and businesses, assaults and death threats still tell foreign visitors that they have excellent relations with their Muslim neighbours. After the foreigners go home, these Christians must remain, and are loath to give any reason for jihadist extremists to think that they are stirring up trouble.
And so it goes -- news trickles out about one outrage or another, but it gets lost if it gets noticed at all. Meanwhile, Christians in Gaza and the West Bank try to live quietly, never knowing whether a newspaper in Denmark or a papal speech in Germany or nothing in particular might be the pretext for violence coming to their doors.
An Israeli and a Palestinian activists hold a torch during the lighting ceremony of a global human rights torch relay in Tel Aviv February 18, 2008. Activists gathered to urge a boycott of next year's Olympic in Beijing over what they said were human rights abuses against people in China. REUTERS/Eliana Aponte (ISRAEL)
Israel is sparring with UN official Sir John Holmes over the "cycle of violence," arguing that the term actually encourages terror. Haaretz explains:
During an official meeting with the former British diplomat, Abramowitz said such discourse draws parallels between terrorists and those who defend themselves against terror. He also stressed that these remarks could inadvertently lead terrorists to believe that the international community might apply pressure on Israel instead of addressing the roots of violence.
We addressed the MSM's specious cycle of violence spin (also myopically referred to as tit-for-tat) timeandagain.
Here's a more intuitive way to respond to Holmes: If Palestinian terror were to completely end, the IDF would certainly stop military action against Palestinians. The result: Total calm.
But on the other hand, if the IDF disappeared, there's no doubt Hamas and other terror groups would continue pursue their official charter seeking to"obliterate Israel" and "raise the banner of Allah over every inch of Palestine." This is no circular "cycle," but rather a linear assault upon Israel, which acts in self-defense.
According to international law, Gaza, as part of the Palestinian Territories, is still under Israeli occupation. The Oslo accords define Territories as a single entity, which includes the Gaza Strip and the West Bank.
International law isn't so straightforward. Since Israel disengaged, the largest international presence in Gaza is the UN. And the estimated 700,000 Palestinians who spent 10 days crossing back and forth between Rafah and Sinai makes a mockery of the argument that Israeli control of Gaza's borders makes it occupied.
While the G&M is correct that Oslo defines the West Bank and Gaza as a single entity, reporter Orly Halpern's assertion doesn't acknowledge that Hamas' takeover of Gaza is what forced Israel to treat the Strip differently than the Abbas-ruled West Bank. Halpern's in good company though. The UN's perplexed too.
Thomas Joscelyn fills in details on the association between Imad Mughniyeh, Hezbollah and Al-Qaida.
A close reading of the 9/11 Commission Report, however, along with legal documents produced by the Clinton administration, the trial testimony of two known al Qaeda terrorists, and a variety of other sources, tells a different story. There is a lengthy history of collaboration between Mugniyah and al Qaeda. And there remain disturbing questions about his possible involvement in the attacks of September 11.
As Hezbollah proudly gave Imad Mughniyeh a jihadi's burial, Martin Kramer wonders why Nasrallah and company denied any connection to the master terrorist for so many years:
Mention of his name to Hezbollah officials would draw a blank stare or blanket denial. “Hezbollah professes no knowledge of the man,” the New York Times reported in 2002. A journalist who interviewed a top Hezbollah official and parliamentary deputy, Abdullah Kassir, once asked him if he knew Mughniyah. “Kassir flashed a blistering look and responded curtly, ‘I have no answer.’”
Hezbollah’s leader, Hasan Nasrallah, followed a double tack: he would defend “freedom fighter” Mughniyah, but not acknowledge him. “The American accusations against Mughnieh are mere accusations,” he was quoted as saying. “Can they provide evidence to condemn Imad Mughnieh? They launch accusations as if they are given facts.” But when pressed, Nasrallah “refused to reveal whether Mughnieh has a role in Hizbullah.” Of course.
"Mr. Mugniyah was in charge of Hezbollah's special operations and its military wing. Israeli experts described him as his organization's military chief of staff. Some here believe that he oversaw the capture of two Israeli soldiers, Ehud Goldwasser and Eldad Regev, in a cross-border raid in July 2006 that set off that summer's monthlong war against Hezbollah in Lebanon."
The BBC apologized for equating Rafik Hariri and Imad Mughniyeh as "great national leaders." The Jerusalem Post explains:
The BBC took the unusual step after Don Mell, The Associated Press's former photographer in Beirut, lambasted the parallel, drawn by BBC correspondent Humphrey Hawkesley in a BBC World report last Thursday, as "an outrage" and "beyond belief."
American journalist Mell was held up at gunpoint by Mughniyeh's men as his colleague Terry Anderson, AP's chief Middle East correspondent, was kidnapped in Beirut in March 1985 . . . .
Contacted by the Post, the BBC issued a statement Friday acknowledging that "the scripting of this phrase was imprecise" and apologizing to anyone who was offended by the item.
Hawkesley (pictured) made the comments near the end of this video.